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Friday, June 05, 2009

S.I.: Pearlman: Ghost of the New York Mets

Ghost, Get Out Of My House!

Nine years ago, the Mets reached the World Series with a significantly less-talented cast than their modern brethren. Their starting outfield—perhaps the worst in the history of the Fall Classic—was Benny Agbayani, Jay Payton and Timo Perez. Their shortstop was Mike Bordick, with Todd Zeile manning first. The final three spots in the rotation were handled by Glendon Rusch, Rick Reed and Bobby Jones. Armando Benitez (egad) closed and John Franco, age 1,658, set him up. In short, on paper the Mets frightened no one.

Yet those Mets played with heart, spunk and tenacity. After every win, someone would inevitably blast Thelma Houston’s Don’t Leave Me This Way on the clubhouse stereo, turning the room into a loud, bubbly bastion of glee. Veterans like Al Leiter and Robin Ventura set the tone, and Mike Piazza seemed to hit a game-winning home run whenever one was needed. Manager Bobby Valentine, slightly less stable than a one-legged emu, walked and spoke with a swagger that, though often mocked by his players, proved invaluable. The Mets wouldn’t lay down—for anyone.

Ah, memories. Burnt out ends of smoky days. The still cold smell of morning. A street lamp dies, another night is over. Another day is dawning. These Mets lay down—for everyone. They play with little gusto, and less aggressiveness. They rarely hit in the clutch, and make lackluster opposing pitchers appear to be the second coming of Steve Carlton.

When the Yankees suffer through a conga line of injuries, the organization never offers up the maladies as an excuse. The Mets, on the other hand, all but seek out injuries to cite to the media. If only we had Delgado. If only we had Reyes.

If only ...

 

Repoz Posted: June 05, 2009 at 10:39 PM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, mets

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   1. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: June 06, 2009 at 12:14 AM (#3208194)
Heart. Spunk. Tenacity!
   2. Gonfalon B. Posted: June 06, 2009 at 12:47 AM (#3208273)
Egalitê!
   3. PreservedFish Posted: June 06, 2009 at 02:32 AM (#3208459)
First of all:

Ah, memories. Burnt out ends of smoky days. The still cold smell of morning. A street lamp dies, another night is over.


WTF?

Second of all:

To the dismay of New Yorkers, the ghost who supposedly vanished is bigger and badder than ever before.


What ghost? What is he talking about? Have the Mets been cursed for their entire existence and I was unaware of it?

But more importantly:

Yet those Mets played with heart, spunk and tenacity.


This is exciting to me because it is one of the first times in my life that I've been able to call BS on a nostalgia piece because I actually lived through it.

I loved that team, and there were certainly players on it with "spunk:" Ventura was a clear leader, Turk Wendell was feisty, etc. But it was not an overachieving team of lovable losers, or clutchy veterans that proved everyone wrong, or any of that crap. Mets fans all agree that the 99 team, who lost gut-wrenchingly in the NLCS, was superior. And one might also note the positive country club style chemistry seemed like a poison soon after with players declaring that they didn't need the likes of ARod or Sheffield to ruin their clubhouse chumminess. The 2000 Mets were a solid but mostly uninteresting team. They didn't have any sort of magic that needs be recaptured.
   4. AJMcCringleberry Posted: June 06, 2009 at 02:42 AM (#3208465)
In short, on paper the Mets frightened no one.

This year's Mets are pretty frighting on paper, assuming you're reading the injury report.
   5. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: June 06, 2009 at 02:44 AM (#3208467)
Somehow I find Pearlman's writing style unbearable in columns but good in books. Probably because he is more enthusiastic when writing books and not faking it.

The reminders of the Agbayani-Perez-Rusch-Reed team are pretty relevant, actually. Except for this:

The final three spots in the rotation were handled by Glendon Rusch, Rick Reed and Bobby Jones.


So what? Rick Reed was a good pitcher who walked nobody. Glendon Rusch didn't start a single game in the playoffs that year, even though he had a 4.01 regular season ERA. Is a playoff rotation of Mike Hampton (3.14 ERA), Al Leiter (3.20), Rick Reed (4.11) and Bobby Jones (5.06) particularly bad?

Ah, memories. Burnt out ends of smoky days. The still cold smell of morning. A street lamp dies, another night is over.


Yucca Flats. The A-bomb. Flag on the moon.
   6. baudib Posted: June 06, 2009 at 02:55 AM (#3208472)
Mets fans all agree that the 99 team, who lost gut-wrenchingly in the NLCS, was superior.


I think that's the point. I think he's trying to say that the 2000 Mets didn't have a ton of talent, not even as much as the previous year's team, but got slightly farther. but your point is good.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: June 06, 2009 at 03:13 AM (#3208482)
I think he's trying to say that the 2000 Mets didn't have a ton of talent, not even as much as the previous year's team, but got slightly farther.


Yes. From my perspective, both now and at the time, the 2000 Mets didn't make it farther because they had more spunk or verve or zazz or kapowza, or because they had made peace with a ghost. They made it farther because Mike Hampton pitched his brains out in the NLCS, Ankiel fell apart, McGwire was injured ... or to put it more accurately they made it because baseball is funny and stuff just happens.

Also, the enduring images of the 2000 team are Timo Perez celebrating in the basepaths and then getting thrown out on a Zeile double, and Jay Payton standing stupidly in the batter's box while Jorge Posada tagged him out on a dribbler that rolled fair. Piazza getting a sawed off bat thrown at him by a roid-raging maniac and not responding at all, precipitating an 8-month national debate on the appriopriate payback. Not a team of spunk, heart and tenacity. They were just a normal playoff team, they had some great players, some crappy ones, some beautiful moments and some ugly ones. Not a lot different than the 2006 Mets and not worth wistful "if only's"
   8. twon8 Posted: June 06, 2009 at 03:23 AM (#3208485)
Rick Reed is the only one who won a game that series, beating the unbeatable El Duque IIRC?
   9. Srul Itza Posted: June 06, 2009 at 03:53 AM (#3208500)
Ah, memories. Burnt out ends of smoky days. The still cold smell of morning. A street lamp dies, another night is over.



WTF?


In case anyone is still wondering, the words after "ah memories" are lyrics from . . . Memories.

Guess he was a Cats fan.
   10. billyshears Posted: June 06, 2009 at 04:39 AM (#3208525)
Mets fans all agree that the 99 team, who lost gut-wrenchingly in the NLCS, was superior.


Agreed - the 1999 team is the one I have real affection for.
   11. baudib Posted: June 06, 2009 at 04:56 AM (#3208534)
Piazza getting a sawed off bat thrown at him by a roid-raging maniac


There's no proof he was on roids, and Clemens has done everything asked of him to prove his innocence.[/diperna]
   12. Lassus Posted: June 06, 2009 at 05:04 AM (#3208539)
Wasn't there something in the HELP thread about putting columnists on "ignore"? Pearlman is candidate #1.

'99 and '00 were both pretty memorable years for different reasons. I ended '00 just sad, but I ended '99 in a blinding fury at Kenny Rogers that time and successive events have done nothing to abate.
   13. Grumbledook Posted: June 06, 2009 at 07:39 AM (#3208565)
The future has been written for the 2009 New York Mets, and it is not good. They are modern day Jobs, all of them. Only in this run, there is no reprieve. A team with baseball's second-highest payroll will win, oh, 85 games and finish 10 games behind Philadelphia. They will add someone -- Aubrey Huff? Nick Johnson? -- to the mix, sing his praises, find a groove, then sink back to reality. They will fire their manager, trade off their prospects, talk about the new Mets, the fresh Mets, the exciting Mets. But they're still the haunted Mets.


What prospects will the Mets trade? They pretty much strip-mined the farm system to get Johan Santana, so it doesn't seem like trading prospects for veterans will really be of much help. If they do win about 85 games, they will be in exactly the same limbo that the Phillies themselves were in before they finally put together a roster that was good enough to win the NL East and win a World Series. So what exactly is his point?

Color me skeptical, but I don't think that 3 games out of first when 2/8 of their opening day lineup is on the DL means that the sky is falling or that the team is somehow haunted.

[Moreover, if it's the 2000 Mets they seek to emulate, wouldn't a Nick Johnson or an Aubrey Huff be exactly the type of player they would want to have on their team? Both are first basemen who have value (especially Johnson, when healthy), but they are much closer to the Todd Zeile standard of mediocrity than Carlos Delgado.]
   14. Gonfalon B. Posted: June 06, 2009 at 08:24 AM (#3208569)
I ended '99 in a blinding fury at Kenny Rogers that time and successive events have done nothing to abate.

If that game had gone to a 24th inning, Grady... er, Bobby Valentine might have brought in Dotel.
   15. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 06, 2009 at 08:31 AM (#3208571)
THANK YOU, KENNY ROGERS!
   16. Benji Posted: June 06, 2009 at 08:38 AM (#3208572)
The Yankees don't cry about injuries? I've heard Jose F'n Molina and Cody F'n Ransom's name a few googleplex times on their broadcast, not to mention Bruney (who is somehow regarded as a superstar, based on what I can't fathom). Maybe Brian Cashman doesn't moan to Marchman, but Kay, Sterling & Co. sure make up for him.
   17. Leroy Kincaid Posted: June 06, 2009 at 01:25 PM (#3208609)
Geez, how many youtube accounts does Repoz have?

This whole "can't use injuries as an excuse" thing is often taken too far. I can understand the team feeling that way but when it comes from the media and fans it's mostly just macho B.S. An entire team could be stricken with swine flu and some people would be chastising them for using it as an excuse and wondering why the manager, coaches, and grounds-crew didn't get out there to pick up the slack.
   18. Win one for Agrippa (haplo53) Posted: June 06, 2009 at 01:47 PM (#3208613)
Yucca Flats. The A-bomb. Flag on the moon.


Love it.
   19. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: June 06, 2009 at 02:02 PM (#3208619)
Where'd that come from, Benji? I can't recall a single Cody Ransom mention since A-Rod's return, and I suspect that the fanbase would rather that Molina is far away so that The Italian Job is our backup catcher. I'll give you Bruney, but I think he's a legit 8th inning guy when healthy.
   20. The District Attorney Posted: June 07, 2009 at 12:07 AM (#3209000)
Yucca Flats. The A-bomb. Flag on the moon.
How did it get there?
   21. Downtown Bookie Posted: June 07, 2009 at 01:10 AM (#3209113)
The only thing haunting the Mets are wanna be writers.

DB

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